Alaska Airlines retrofitting 737 fleet with new, split winglet

By BA Staff

Scimitar split winglets. Photo courtesy Alaska Airlines.

Alaska Airline’s Boeing 737s will soon fly the more efficient performance-enhancing split Scimitar winglets, which will reduce fuel consumption by 58,000 gallons a year per aircraft saving the airline $20 million and cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 57,000 tons annually, equivalent to about 11,900 passenger vehicles. The new winglet from Aviation Partners Boeing is called ‘Scimitar’ due to its resemblance to the mediaeval sword.

Mark Eliasen, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of finance and treasurer said:

“Reducing fuel consumption has been a top priority at Alaska Airlines for years. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our employees, we’ve cut our carbon emissions by 30 percent per passenger mile since 2004. Investing in split winglets will further reduce our fuel use and continue our efforts to be the industry leader in environmental stewardship.”

Among other efforts to lower fuel consumption, Alaska installed lighter inflight food and beverage carts, and instituted procedures such as taxiing on one engine instead of two, a procedure already common amongst carriers in India.

The International Council on Clean Transportation , a non-profit research organization ranked Alaska the highest in fuel efficiency among all 15 major U.S. airlines in a report it released in September.

Winglets save fuel by reducing drag, which allows aircraft to fly at cruise speed with less engine power. Alaska Airlines will recoup the capital cost of installing the new winglets through fuel savings in about two years.

Designed by Seattle-based Aviation Partners Boeing, the first winglet will be installed early next year and the project will be completed by 2017. Alaska plans to install the winglets on 111 aircraft, including most of its 737-800s, -900s and all of its -900ERs. Installation will be scheduled on each aircraft during routine maintenance inspections.

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